Cites Negative Economic and Environmental Impacts of Governor Christie’s Attempt to Opt Out of RGGI

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, today offered an amendment to the Ratepayer Protection Act to require a governor’s decision to opt out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan be ratified by the state legislature.  The Clean Power Plan will be the first federal requirement to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.  If complied with, through a program like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), it can have significant and positive economic and environmental impacts.  From Maine to Maryland, nine states currently participate in RGGI.  However, Governor Chris Christie has withdrawn New Jersey from participation in the program.  Pallone’s amendment failed on a voice vote.

“The decision to opt out of initiatives that would help reduce carbon pollution, while supporting economic development, is one that should reflect the people of that state and not just one individual,” said Congressman Pallone.  “In New Jersey, we have seen first-hand the detrimental impacts of leaving this effective program.  While the New Jersey Legislature fights back, I must do my part in Congress to reverse the negative trend set by Governor Christie and to help ensure other states’ legislatures have the opportunity to oppose these misguided decisions.”

The Energy and Commerce Committee today marked up the Ratepayer Protection Act, authored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY).  The bill would allow states to opt out of state or federal carbon emissions plans, like the Clean Power Plan, if that state determines the plan would have an adverse effect on the state’s electricity system or its consumers.  Pallone’s amendment to the bill would require a state’s decision to opt out of the Clean Power Plan be approved by the state’s full legislature, rather than a unilateral decision by the state’s governor.

New Jersey has been negatively impacted by Governor Chris Christie’s decision to withdraw from RGGI.   By creating an incentive for power plants to reduce carbon pollution, RGGI would help New Jersey comply with the Clean Power Plan.  In addition, through RGGI, allowance auctions would support investment in clean energy programs that benefit consumers and the state economy.  Since Governor Christie’s decision to withdraw from RRGI in 2012, New Jersey has forgone an estimated $130 million in RGGI auction proceeds, and the state could miss out on an additional $359 million through 2020. 

Over the next decade, RGGI is expected to generate $8.7 billion in economic growth in the nine states which currently participate.

The full New Jersey Legislature, which voted on New Jersey's entry into the RGGI program, has voted twice to put New Jersey back into the power plant carbon reduction agreement.  Both times Governor Christie vetoed the legislation.  Now, the New Jersey State Senate has voted to override the regulations the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) promulgated last July to formally withdraw New Jersey from the regulations governing the RGGI program, and action is pending for a full Assembly vote.